Born in Haverhill, Massachusetts, in 1950, James Rothman received his BA (summa cum laudae) from Yale College, and Ph.D. (Biological Chemistry) from Harvard Medical School, followed by a two-year postdoctoral fellowship in biology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Over the next 30 years, he taught at five U.S. universities. Starting his academic and research career at Stanford University in 1976, he rose to full professorship in Biochemistry within 6 years. In 1988, he assumed the E.R. Squibb Chair of Molecular Biology at Princeton University. In 1991, he became the Paul A. Mark Professor and Chairman of the Cellular Biochemistry and Biophysics Program at the Sloane-Kettering Institute in New York and Vice-Chairman of the Institute.
Professor Rothman made the brilliant discovery that intracellular protein transport could be reconstituted in cell-free extracts and that vesicular transport within the Golgi apparatus could be reproduced accurately from isolated Golgi membranes, cytosol and ATP. This discovery had a profound impact on our understanding of intracellular secretory pathways, and particularly how
these transport vesicles reach their correct destination in the cell and how and when to release their contents. Rothman’s dissection of a cell dynamic event as complex as this in vitro in individual steps is a milestone in biomedicine and has opened new fields in cell biology.
Professor Rothman’s distinguished research appeared in hundreds of scientific papers and invited lectures. He received numerous awards and honors for his accomplishments, including the King Faisal International Prize for Science, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize and the Albert Lasker Basic Medical Research Award, in addition to 20 other prizes from the U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland and the European Union. He was also awarded the Harden Medal from the British Biochemical Society and the Otto-Warburg Medal from the German Scoiety of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and received Honorary Doctorate degrees in Science from Regenburg and Zurich Universities. Rothman is a Felow of the US Academy of Sciences and Arts and Member of the European Organization for Molecular Biology, the Japanese Biochemical Society and the US National Science Academy, and its Medical Institute. He also served as a member of the editorial boards of nine scientific journals, including Science and Cell, and President of the Gordon Cellular and Mollecular Biology Club.
In 2004, he moved to Columbia University as Director of the Biological Chemistry Laboratory and Professor of Physiology and Cell Physics at the College of Physicians and Surgeons. The following year, he became the Clyde and Helen Hu Chair of Biological Chemistry and Director of the Genome Center at Columbia. In 2008, he moved to Yale University where he is currently the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences and Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology at Yale University Medical School.
Dr. Pelham, has been awarded the prize for his distinguished work has been discovering how molecular traffic is regulated in cells. He developed the chaperone concept, discovered the molecules that aid protein folding and transport, and mechanisms for the retrieval and retention of protein doplasmic reticulum